Beachgoers seeing more stingrays closer to shore

Posted at 9:10 AM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 12:36:19-04

Beachgoers in Coronado have been seeing more stingrays up close in recent weeks, and a Lemon Grove man's video shows just how close they are getting to shore.

On Sunday, Chris Kruger shot underwater video of the seafloor covered in stingrays off Gator Beach in Coronado. The GoPro footage was captured from about 100 feet off the shore.

"They were everywhere," Kruger told 10News. "No, they weren't aggressive at all."

Kruger, who often goes snorkeling off Gator Beach, added, "I think there was more this year than there has been in the past."

There have been a lot of stings this summer.

"I was surprised at how many I saw in that video. There's a lot," said Coronado Lifeguard Sgt. Damon Bassett.

Bassett said that on a typical summer day in Coronado, five to 10 people are stung by stingrays.

"Now we're seeing more like 20 to 30 per day," Bassett said.

Stingrays do not attack people. In most cases, people are stepping on them more because the stingrays are closer to shore. They have a reflex to protect themselves by flipping their venomous barbed tail on what pinning them to the floor.

Bassett said they come to shore to feed on smaller sea life.

"When the surf gets small, they have an opportunity to come in shallow water and feed on different types of fish," Bassett said.

Bassett, who scuba dives off Coronado beach, said, "I'll see stingrays out there all year long. It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm."

The species of stingrays commonly seem off San Diego beaches are round stingrays. Adults are about the diameter of a basketball, Bassett said.

They are not the same species as the eight-foot stingray which killed Steve Irwin in a freak accident off the coast of Australia. The large barb hit his heart.

Bassett said he has never seen anyone die locally from a stingray sting. However, he said, they are extremely painful.

The treatment is soaking the affected body part in hot water for several hours, Bassett said.